1. Are the Ten Horns really Ten Tribes that defeat the Roman Empire? Daniel 7:24 makes it abundantly clear that the ten horns are not other nations:
And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise... (KJV)
Notice some important truths from this passage that directly contradict SDA teachings:
The ten horns are ten kings who shall arise from this kingdom... (NKJV)
Its ten horns are ten kings that will rule that empire. (NLT)
The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. (NIV)
As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise... (ESV)
As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings will arise... (NASB)
As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise... (RSV)
- The Bible clearly says the ten kings will arise from within the Roman Empire. None of the ten tribes arose from within or ruled over the Roman Empire. The ten tribes were outside powers who conquered parts of the Roman Empire and established new nations. They neither came from the Roman Empire nor ruled over it.
- The Bible clearly says the ten horns are "kings". The Aramaic word used is melek which literally means "king" and is only translated "king" in the Old Testatment, never "nation" or "kingdom". The ten tribes were nations, not kings. In the very same passage, the word malkuw is used, meaning "kingdom". Notice:
And the ten horns out of this kingdom (malkuw) are ten kings (melek) that shall arise...
If this passage was referring to ten kingdoms that defeated the Roman Empire, then we would have expected Daniel to use the word malkuw (kingdom) instead of melek (king).
The fourth beast had ten horns growing out of its head. In Daniel chapter 8, Adventists teach that horns growing out of the head of a beast represent specific kings or rulers over that particular empire. In the vision of the Goat and the Ram, the Goat has a large horn growing on its head and Daniel 8:21 says:
SDA's teach the horn on the head of the goat of Daniel 8 was a king (Alexander the Great) who ruled over the kingdom of Greece. If a horn on a head indicates a ruler over that empire in Daniel 8, then why not apply the same principle to Daniel 7?
And the male goat is the kingdom of Greece. The large horn that is between its eyes is the first king. (NKJV)
Adventists agree that the horn growing on the head of the Goat represents Alexandar the Great. When that one large horn is later replaced by four smaller horns, Adventists likewise teach the Macedonian empire was ruled by Alexander's four generals. It is entirely inconsistent for Adventists to interpret the horns of Daniel 7 as nations that conquered that beast while at the same time teaching that the horns of Daniel 8 are kings of that nation! The Bible imagery throughout the book of Daniel, and also in the book of Revelation, consistently signifies that horns growing on the head of a beast represent the kings or leaders of that power. To teach that those horns are actually outside powers that invade and conquer the beast is totally inconsistent with the imagery and Biblical usage of the symbol.
Another symbol ignored by Seventh-day Adventists is the two iron legs of the image of Daniel 2. The Roman Empire clearly split into two parts: Western, head-quartered in Rome, and Eastern, ruled from Constantinople. The ten tribes only attacked and conquered the western part of the empire. The eastern part continued on for more than 1,000 years. This destroys the SDA image of the ten toes being synomomous with ten tribes, because that would mean five toes on each foot, and the Eastern Empire was not defeated by any of the ten tribes.
Another problem is that at least 20 tribes invaded the Roman Empire. Therefore, we can conclude:
- The SDA teaching contradicts the Bible which says the ten horns arise from within that kingdom
- The SDA teaching contradicts the Bible which says the ten horns are kings, not nations
- The SDA teaching contradicts their own interpretation of horns, which is that horns are rulers of a particular Kindom (aka Alexander)
- The SDA teaching contradicts history which says twenty tribes invaded the western Roman Empire, not ten
2. Did the Papacy uproot three tribes? As noted above, Uriah Smith and other Adventists teach that the Vandals, Ostrogoths, and Heuli were destroyed by the Pope of Rome. Such a revision of history is nothing less than pure fiction. None of these tribes were destroyed by the Pope. Any history textbook will explain that the Heruli were defeated by the Lombards, the Vandals and Ostrogoths by the Byzantines. Now the Pope benefited to some degree by the defeat of the Vandals and Ostrogoths, but it is uncertain, what, if any, role the Pope played in their demise. More importantly, the Heruli were defeated by the Lombards, who were Arians and avowed enemies of the Catholic Church. The Lombards were already identified as one of the other ten horns, and the defeat of the Heruli did not aid the Papacy in any meaningful way, so it makes no sense to claim the Papacy uprooted the Heruli.
In addition, two other tribes were uprooted during the same time period by the Byzantines: the Huns (455 AD) and the Alemanni (495 AD). Why do Adventists ignore these uprooted tribes? There is no reason to ignore them except for the fact that Adventists are trying to make the square pegs of history fit into the round holes of their prophetic jigsaw puzzle. They needed three tribes in order to make their theory fit into Daniel's writings, so they picked three out of the five and ignored the others.
3. Did the Papacy persecute the saints for 1,260 years?
There is no doubt at all that Catholics persecuted others, but the 538 - 1798 timeframe of the persecutions does not fit very well with actual historical facts. Persecution actually started more than a century before 538 and finally ended nearly half a century after 1798 :
"Persecution of non-Catholics by Catholic authority began in the 4th Century, and culminated in the Codex
Theodosianus (438), which punished all who did not embrace “that religion. . . now professed by the Pontiff.” At the opposite extreme, the Portuguese inquisition operated until 1821; the Spanish inquisition only concluded in 1834; the Roman inquisition in the Papal States also continued into the mid 19th century. Thus, the persecutory activities of Catholics exceed the limits of 538-1798 CE. The papacy does not fit the limits set by the prophecy."6
4. Did the Papacy change the Sabbath and the Ten Commandments? The Catholic Cathecism traces its roots back to Augustine, which was long before Adventists say the "little horn" power arose, and long before the papal power became established. Therefore, it is difficult, if not impossible, to pin the Cathecism's changing of the law on the Papacy.
Adventists claim that the papacy transfered Sabbath observance to Sunday during the dark ages. Prophet Ellen White saw in vision that the Pope changed the day of worship to Sunday:
"I saw that God had not changed the Sabbath, for He never changes. But the pope had changed it from the seventh to the first day of the week; for he was to change times and laws."7
The "official" teaching of the Catholic Church is that the abolition of the Sabbath was confirmed by the early Church Fathers:
The early Church Fathers compared the observance of the Sabbath to the observance of the rite of circumcision, and from that they demonstrated that if the apostles abolished circumcision (Gal. 5:1-6), so also the observance of the Sabbath must have been abolished.8
The above quote has the NIHIL OBSTAT and the IMPRIMATUR which essentially means the quote is considered authentic, accurate, and official by the Catholic Church. So, the "official" Catholic Church teaching is that Sunday-keeping can be traced back to the generation following the Apostles. Adventists point to a series of articles that appeared in September of 1893 in the Catholic Mirror as proof that the Catholic Church changed the day of worship. Those articles do indeed brag that the Catholic Church made the change, but they do not carry either the NIHIL OBSTAT or the IMPRIMATUR. This means the articles are not an official church teaching and represent merely the opinion of the author.9
Seventh-day Adventist theologian Samuele Bacchiocchi had access to the Vatican vaults and researched the oldest material on Sabbath-keeping. His research led him to conclude Sunday-keeping was largely practiced long before the first pope came on the scene:
"I differ from Ellen White, for example, on the origin of Sunday. She teaches that in the first centuries all Christians observed the Sabbath and it was largely through the efforts of Constantine that Sundaykeeping was adopted by many Christians in the fourth century. My research shows otherwise. If you read my essay HOW DID SUNDAYKEEPING BEGIN? which summarizes my dissertation, you will notice that I place the origin of Sundaykeeping by the time of the Emperor Hadrian, in A. D. 135."10
In the first centuries of Christianity there were varied opinions on the day of worship. Many Jewish Christians continued to observe the seventh day Sabbath. Some Christians observed both days, while others gathered for worship only on Sunday. There is evidence that Sunday-keeping was widely practiced by Christians by the generation following the Apostles, and perhaps even while some of the Apostles were still alive. The Didache is an ancient "church manual" dating from the first century. In it, the "Lord's Day", understood by comparison to other literature of that time period to mean "Sunday", is mentioned as the day that the Lord's Supper is celebrated:11
90 A.D. Didache - "Christian Assembly on the Lord's Day: 1. But every Lord's day do ye gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure."12
Here are a couple of other early quotes indicating an early introduction of Sunday worship in the Christian Church:
100 A.D. Barnabas - "Moreover God says to the Jews, 'Your new moons and Sabbaths I cannot endure.' You see how he says, 'The present Sabbaths are not acceptable to me, but the Sabbath which I have made in which, when I have rested [heaven: Heb 4] from all things, I will make the beginning of the eighth day which is the beginning of another world.' Wherefore we Christians keep the eighth day for joy, on which also Jesus arose from the dead and when he appeared ascended into heaven."13
Therefore, Sunday observance started hundreds of years before the Roman bishop's rise to pre-eminence.
110 A.D. Ignatius - "[T]hose who were brought up in the ancient order of things [i.e. Jews] have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord's day, on which also our life has sprung up again by him and by his death".14
5. Did the Papacy have Supremecy for 1260 years?
The SDA Prophet Ellen White wrote:
"The 1260 years of papal supremacy began with the establishment of the papacy in A. D. 538, and would therefore terminate on 1798."15
538 AD is the year when the Ostrogoths were driven out of Rome, but nothing of great importance happened to the papacy during this year. In fact, the Ostrogoths later recovered from their defeat, went on the offensive, and re-occupied Rome from 541 to 548 AD. The Ostrogoths were not finally eradicated until 561 AD. The papacy did not achieve temporal sovereignty until 756 when the pope acquired the territories of Central Italy. (The papacy controlled these territories until 1870 when the king of Sardinia took over the papal territories.)
So why the 538 date? As noted above, the Catholic persecutions do not adhere to these dates. There is no reason for starting at 538 AD other than the fact that it provides a convenient starting point if counting backwards from 1798--the supposed date of the demise of the papal power.
So, what about the ending date of the 1260-day prophecy? Was the papacy abolished in 1798? Ellen White writes:
"The infliction of the deadly wound points to the abolition of the papacy in 1798."16
While 1798 is a significant year for the papacy, it certainly does not indicate the "abolition" or even the downfall of the papacy.
When Pope Pius VI was taken prisoner by the French General Berthier, the papacy suffered humiliation, but it would be a gross exaggeration to describe this event as the "downfall" of the papacy.
SDA Theologian Dr. Bacchiocchi explains what happened after the pope was captured in 1798:
"The imprisonment of Pope Paul VI was condemned by Russia and
Austria. Both nations decided to join forces to restore the Pope to
his Pontifical throne in Rome. When the French government was
confronted with this new coalition and with popular uprisings, it
decided to transfer the Pope to Valence, in France, where he died 40
days later, on August 29, 1799.
Thus, the dates of 538 and 1798 do not accurately mark the beginning and ending dates of the period of papal supremacy. The Bishop of Rome was gradually consolidating power for many centuries, and the papacy continued to grow and thrive even after the temporary setback of 1798. These dates were concocted by Adventists because they were convenient. These dates fit nicely into the prophetic jigsaw puzzle they were building. The dates were picked because they fit in the puzzle, not because they actually delineated the years of papal supremacy.
"The death of Pius VI can hardly be seen as the 'abolishment' or 'the downfall of the Papacy.' It was simply a temporary humiliation of the prestige of the Papacy. In fact, Pius VI was able
to give directives for the election of his successor. Few months after his death, the Cardinals met in Venice on December 8, 1799, and elected Barnaba Chiaramonti, who took the name of Pious VII, in
deference to his predecessor.
"The new Pope was able to negotiate with Napoleon the Concordat in 1801 and the Organic Articles in 1802. These treatises restored to the Pope some of the territories of the States of the
Church and regulated the extent of the Papal authority in France.
"The following years marked, not the downfall, but the
resurgence of papal authority, especially under the Pontificate of
Pius IX (1846-1878). In 1854, Pius IX promulgated the Dogma of the
Immaculate Conception of Mary. ...
"The crowning event of Pius IX's pontificate was the convening
of the First Vatican Council on December 8, 1869. It had a
remarkable large attendance from all over the Roman world and on July
18, 1870, the Council promulgated the dogma of Papal Infallibility.
This dogma has greatly enhanced the authority of the Pope, and
discredits any attempt to attribute to 1798 the downfall of the
6. Does Daniel 7 Describe a Judgment of the Righteous?
Notice the order of events presented in Daniel 7:
There is nothing said in this sequence of events about investigating the deeds of the righteous. The context is that the little horn spoke blasphemous words, and then judgment occurred, and the very next event after the judgment was the destruction of the beast. The only conclusion that can be arrived at from reading this passage is that the ones being judged are the little horn and the beast power. Now notice the sequence in the latter part of the chapter:
- Little horn came up (v. 8)
- Little horn spoke great things (v. 8)
- The judgment was set (v. 10)
- The beast was slain and burned (v. 11)
Once again, there is nothing said about a judgment of the saints. It is clearly the little horn who is judged unworthy of having dominion, and his kingdom is taken away and given to the saints.
- Little horn arises (v. 24)
- Little horn speaks against Most High (v. 25)
- Little horn persecutes saints for 1260 days (v. 25)
- The judgment shall sit (v. 26)
- The little horn's dominion is taken away (v. 26)
- The little horn's kingdom is given to the saints (v. 27)